The newly opened College of the Bahamas, Northern Campus image Lyndah wells
Freeport, Grand Bahama Island, The Bahamas -
Six years after ground was broken for the construction of the College of The Bahamas' Northern Campus, the facility was officially opened yesterday by Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham.
The new campus on the Grand Bahama Highway replaced the former campus on West Settler's Way, which was opened in 1986 with 200 students enrolled. Over the years, it had come to exceed its capacity, and was accommodating a student body of 600.
The first day of classes at the new campus was in January of this year.
The 40,000 square foot, two-story double structure, built on land donated by the Grand Bahama Port Authority, presently houses 18 classrooms, science, computer and language labs, a library, offices and a bookstore.
Chairman of the College of The Bahamas Council Baswell Donaldson, in his remarks, noted that the campus as it stands today represents just the first part of a multi-phased project that by its final phase will be a fully residential campus community.
"Phase III will be a complex much like this one, with new academic, administrative and laboratory spaces, which will stand just opposite this one. We expect in this coming academic year to complete the final design for the complex and to begin initial site preparation work," he said.
"We also expect in that time frame, to finalize development of our bachelor degree program in maritime studies, including marine environmental sciences, which will be a signature offering for this campus."
The new campus, he said, represents the foundation of a college town similar to those in other parts of the world, which will foster enhanced economic opportunities and drive growth in the surrounding areas. "There's no doubt that there are special opportunities in meeting the operational, and general resource and support needs required to sustain a growing college community of consumers, students and staff alike," he said.
COB President Dr. Betsy Boze said the new campus is the catalyst for growth, both in the facility itself and in the surrounding community.
"Future phases will include a comprehensive, all-encompassing college experience with a mix of academic, social and economic activities, including housing for students and faculty, enabling Grand Bahama to recruit students and scholars from around the country and around the world," she said.
"When the college decided to build here, we did so with the long term vision to significantly enhance access to a college education for all Bahamians."
During his address, Ingraham noted that the local campus provides students from Grand Bahama, Bimini and Abaco an affordable alternative to travelling to Nassau or abroad to attend college.
The campus will facilitate the Institute for Educational Leadership which plays an important role in the professional development of public school administrators, he noted. Forty educators have already graduated from that program in Grand Bahama.
"The exploits of this northern campus will not stop here. It is significant to note that a flagship program of this campus will be in the area of maritime studies with this site hosting The College of The Bahamas Institute of Maritime Studies," Ingraham said.
"This, of course, is a natural fit for both The Bahamas generally, as a world-renowned international maritime centre with one of the largest ship registries in the world, and Grand Bahama, in particular, as a major world centre for ship repair and container transshipment."
Ingraham said COB officials have already collaborated with several international institutions, including the State University of New York and Holland College about maritime studies programs.
Both of those institutions have the certification of the International Maritime Organization, he added, and both are prepared to offer their programs and allow their faculty to teach in Grand Bahama as well as host COB students on their respective campuses.
"This kind of quality collaboration will encourage students hopefully from North America to consider The Bahamas as a viable choice for pursuing studies in maritime science," he said.
"The presence of Ross University Medical School, here in Grand Bahama, offering medical studies for students from the United States of America, and the emerging opportunity we have to make this Grand Bahama campus a centre for maritime studies, demonstrates the potential for Grand Bahama to develop a major offshore education sector, creating significant opportunities for employment, in-come generation, business development and additional study opportunities for Bahamians."
Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham delivers the keynote address at the official opening of the College of The Bahamas' Northern Campus, Freeport on Thursday, May 12, 2011. (BIS Photo/Sharon Turner)
UTEB and NCTU President Jennifer Isaacs Dotson shares a lighthearted moment with Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham, at the official opening of the College of The Bahamas' Northern Campus, Freeport on Thursday, May 12, 2011. (BIS Photo/Sharon Turner)
Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham is given a campus tour by COB Associate Vice President, Northern Campus Dr. Kelley Duncanson (far right), following the official opening of the College of The Bahamas' Northern Campus,